The brackets are out, the teams are paired up, and the debate over who “deserved” to get in or not is now underway on ESPN with Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas.
We can analyze and over-analyze this until we run out of rationale and hypothesis for every team.
Here’s the one advice I have for your team: play the team in front of you. Screw everything else.
That’s all. It’s not about the seedings, how you finished during the regular season, or who you played during the season.
After Sunday night, all of that goes out the window.
For most teams, the Big Dance is a way to redeem themselves, or reaffirm who they are. For Louisville, a chance to defend their national title. For Syracuse, a restart to what was a strong run that went south at the end of the season.
For Wichita State, an incentive to shut up the doubters (oh Gottlieb…). The committee did them no favors by sticking them in the Midwest (aka the Group of Death). For ISU, a chance to show what they’re capable of, and for Iowa, an opportunity to make right after a sour ending to the Big Ten season…and a very important reason to play inspired.
Similar to bowl season for college football, you get that extra practice and time to extend your season. Everyone is now 0-0 as the First Four (rudely known as the play-in game) begins.
For nearly all of the teams, the seedings mean little to them. They’re in the Big Dance. That’s all that matters. And we should have that mindset as well as fans.
Survive and advance.
Damn the seeds, strength of schedules, and all of the other stuff.
Play the team in front of you.
The Madness begins this week, if we can’t get through St. Patrick’s Day first.
It’s going to be a long fun week.